Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My take on a great beginner DIY gardener's handbook

I recently had the pleasure of acquiring the latest copy of The Small Budget Gardener: All The Dirt On Saving Money In Your Garden by Maureen Gilmer. I must confess that it covers such an array of budget friendly gardening topics and in such great detail, that I am considering purchasing this book in bulk and gifting it to all of my design clients. As a landscape designer, there are only so many topics I can cover at client meetings before everyone experiences information overload. So, instead of over stimulating my clients with gardening information, I can now give them one book that covers most everything there is to know!

I envision this book saving my clients thousands of dollars over the life of their garden. I applaud my design clients who purchase plans from me with the intention of installing their own garden over time. After all, I myself am a frugal person and enjoy performing my own tasks at home as much as possible. However, I realize that while most of my design clients want to do the work themselves, they rarely have the knowledge required to do the work properly to truly save them money (not to mention the frustration that comes from learning to garden trial by fire). Maureen helps remove a lot of guesswork from working through the obstacles Mother Nature may put in the way of our happy gardening.

With the U.S. economy in the state it's in today, we are left with little choice other than to build our gardens on shoe string budgets like our grandparents did. Now is the time that we should be using this opportunity to learn how to garden using tried and true methods. The Small Budget Gardener helps teach us what our grandparents didn’t quite get the chance to. While they were used to living off the land & creating beautiful gardens on a tight budget, we strove to build superstores and suburban lawns and landscapes. Although I’m not so happy about the circumstances that are encouraging us to change, I’m glad that our ideas are now beginning to shift back to simpler times.

Many of my clients tend to be overwhelmed by all there is to learn about the world of gardening. Often, they don’t know who to turn to for advice. They may rely on their local nursery and gardening television to give them gardening tips. Nevertheless, today's gardening industry is so highly geared towards instant gratification, marketing and sales that it often neglects to educate it's consumers on how to grow their gardens for a fraction of the price. Today’s gardeners need to band together and share plants, tips and ideas, Maureen’s book helps point us in the right direction.

While I loved the shear genius of the textbook layout of the book, I would request that two things be changed to make it easier to reference; I think the reader would benefit from a subject index in the back of the book. Also throughout the book, the reader often has to choose between turning the page to finish a sentence and reading a text box blurb on a related topic. I found myself flipping back and forth quite a bit which made my reading experience a little choppy.

The Small Budget Gardener is well organized and is easy to use as a reference for years to come. It's a great how-to for all sorts of budget friendly garden practices on everything from purchasing the right garden equipment and avoiding flashy marketing gimmicks to propagating free plants, trading plants with other gardeners, low cost organic gardening techniques and creating your own recycled garden art. It is well worth the small investment to purchase it. You can follow the link above to purchase it online through